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Remembering Canada’s military chaplains

November 7, 2014 One Comment

Called-to-Serve-PosterTORONTO – To mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, the Anglican Cathedral of St. James (Toronto) is hosting an exhibit on the history of Canada’s military chaplaincy, and Lutheran Church–Canada is among the sponsors.

Entitled “Called to Serve: An Exhibit Honouring Canada’s Military Chaplains of All Faiths,” the display opened yesterday, November 6. It is free and open to the public every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., ending November 16.

“The first ever of its kind in Canada, this exhibit will chronicle and pay tribute to the brave service of the padres who donned battle dress and joined members of the armed forces on the front lines of past wars and still walk with them today in regions of armed conflict and natural disasters,” a press release notes. “Unarmed and often working alongside medical field personnel, chaplains lend spiritual support to fighting troops, comfort the wounded and bereaved, console the dying and provide dignified burial for the dead. They also care spiritually for the families of military personnel.”

“We’re glad to be among the co-sponsors of this event in Toronto,” said LCC President Robert Bugbee, “because it’s surely right that our whole Canadian family should take a moment like Remembrance Day to thank the Lord for the devotion of those who served—and still serve—in the armed forces of our country.”

“Lutheran Church-Canada plays a significant role in supplying military chaplains, both within the regular and reserve forces,” he continued. “Since their work is done quietly and not so much on the ‘Main Street’ of our local communities, it’s easy to overlook. I hope the Toronto exhibition and another Remembrance Day holiday will move people to hold our chaplains and all Canadian military personnel in their public and private prayers. Find out their addresses! Write them words of encouragement now and again! The stable, quiet life most of us lead each day is there in no small measure because of the way the God of love has used their work, both past and present.”

Rev. Dr. Harold Ristau, a LCC pastor serving as a chaplain with the Armed Forces, was a member of the organizing committee for the exhibit. “The exhibit is intended to honour the service of Canadian military chaplains in all the wars and military operations that our nation has been involved with,” he explained. “It includes historical artifacts, photos, and testimonies, and is in part and parcel with other Remembrance Day activities at the Anglican cathedral intended to recognize chaplain service.”

“Chaplain ministry often happens in the background and behind the scenes,” Dr. Ristau continued. “If the Canadian Armed Forces can be compared to a car, then the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service is like the suspension system: though hidden underneath it is indispensable to the operation of the vehicle. This exhibit brings chaplaincy ministry back to our attention and reminds us to praise God for chaplains of the past and the present, in a spirit of healthy patriotism. We honour their sacrifices, knowing that some gave their lives for this country. If you live in the region of Toronto or southern Ontario, this is an event that you will not want to miss as Remembrance Day approaches.”

For more information, download a pdf poster of the exhibit here.

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